We often get asked what beach plants do well in a coastal situation.
Having just returned from a week on the southern Oregon coast, I had the time and opportunity to see for myself, and am happy to share some good options.
Here in western Oregon we have what is usually referred to as a Mediterranean climate, meaning mild winters and warm, dry summers.
As any gardener here knows, the possibilities to grow interesting, unique, and fabulous plants here are nearly endless. On the coast, there are three additional important factors to keep in mind that might make beach plants and coastal gardening challenging.
To my mind, these factors render coastal conditions even truer Mediterranean than our more forgiving inland version.
The three factors of the coastal challenge: High, frequent winds
1. High and frequent winds
2. Often sandy, fast-draining soils
3. Salt – both in the air, and often in the groundwater
Because of the less extreme temperature fluctuations near large bodies of water, you can also often push your boundaries with beach plants a little more than you can farther inland, which is always fun! 🙂 As a result of this, you will, for example, see Phormiums of a size you hardly ever see in Portland.
And, I bet coastal gardeners have never even heard of a “Phormium winter”, like we experience here, from time to time, when all our lovingly tended New Zealand flax dies.
This Phormium is in bloom, which is another feature we don’t often see in Portland. And, it is of an entirely different proportion than their inland brothers and sisters.
The windy coastal conditions creates a need for screening. Here, the evergreen density of Escallonia is put to work to create shelter from the howling gales and breezy barrages so often experienced on seaside properties.
Climbing roses, Bergenia, Agapanthus, Sedums, Zauschneria, Cistus and ornamental grasses accompany the dark foliage of the ornamental cherries anchoring this coastal cottage garden.
There is a decidedly California flair over this seaside, streetside garden – Leucadendron, Parahebe perfoliata, Phormium, ornamental grasses, Ilex, etc. The large Rhododendrons in the background give a nod to a more traditional Oregon plant palette.
Hebes is a great, popular alternative – here seen with a wind whipped Pine. The general rule of thumb when it comes to Hebe varieties is that the smaller the leaf, the hardier they are.
6. Coastal Hebes
And, since you can push the envelope in milder coastal climates, you can get away with using the showier, larger-leaved varieties. Hebes are evergreen and bloom for a long time, with white, pink, or purple blossoms and are quintessential west coach beach plants.
7. Erigeron and Agapanthus
Erigeron is a tough, pretty, mounding plant that blooms for a long time with small, daisy-like flowers. Here placed in front of a row of Agapanthus.
Succulents are a fantastic option! Agaves, Sedum, and Sempervivum all perform fantastically. Here is the hot pink Delosperma planted with pink Seathrift (Armeria) that has mostly finished blooming.
9. Sedums and Sempervivums
These incredibly exposed wild succulents were growing on a vertical rock face out in the ocean. I snapped the photo during low tide. I wouldn’t have been able to go near it otherwise. These are a mix of Sedums and Sempervivums.
Eucalyptus offers a perfect, evergreen tree for fast-draining soils. The leaves might turn red when heat stressed.
Conifers often do well on the coast. Junipers, Pines and Cypresses are common. Here is the free-form silhouette of a conifer paired with a more formally clipped broadleaf evergreen shrub, and the sky blue rounds of the Agapanthus.
12. Exposed Pines
These exposed Pines put up a constant battle against the Western winds of the Pacific Ocean. As you can see, wind is a major factor in seaside gardens. Use the lee side of your house to your advantage, to cultivate your less sturdy plants.
The dramatic foliage of an Echium is a great attribute to any garden, but be sure to put it in a less windy spot, to ensure its towering flowers do not collapse.
Rosemary does phenomenally well on the coast. After all, it is a Mediterranean plant in a very Mediterranean climate.
Hydrangeas do great on the coast. This one is on the lee side of a building with an eastern exposure, bu. Normally this would be a great spot for a Hydrangea, but this one is looking rather sad. Hydrangeas are thirsty plants, and love ample moisture. If you plant them in fast draining soils, you need to provide them enough water to look their best. You can see from the crispy mopheads that it’s not entirely happy. 🙁
16. Cordyline Australis
You can tell that these photos are from the southern Oregon coast, as some of the plants are decidedly Californian in stature. Here are a couple of mature Cordyline Australis – the likes of which you may not readily see on the northern coast. Yuccas might be a good alternative in those colder areas.
Roses, Crocosmias, Agastache, Ceanothus, Achillea, Salal, Lavender, Santolina, Cannas, Poppies, … the list of tough, excellent, salt-tolerant plants is a long one. You can find an excellent list here. Hopefully this post will get you some ideas of what might work where you are. And, we are of course always available to answer more questions. Just stop by our Portland Nursery in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood.
17. California Poppies
A little past their prime, but still lovely, tough-as-nails California poppies adorn the seaside landscape. It doesn’t get much better than that!
The most successful pretty garden designs incorporate and make the best of their settings. Amending an existing design with garden color requires a healthy dose of sensitivity to existing conditions, an eye for plant health, and the ability to capitalize on inherent strong points and dominant features that are already in place. But, although there is plenty of room for educated speculation, there is one area of the design package that is nearly impossible to be certain of during the leafless winter and spring months, and that is color. A designer with good plant knowledge can usually discern certain clues through the shape, size and bark of deciduous trees and shrubs, but other than that – your guess is as good as just about anyone else’s.
Here are a few progress shots from the planting of a pretty garden that was re-worked this past spring, before the leaves opened. The existing plant palette was rather traditional NW, with lots of natives, and mature trees – which made the task a lot easier!
The biggest surprises in terms of color came when the Japanese maples opened up, and we are happy to say that it all worked out beautifully. The plant list for the redesign contained lots of additional natives, such as our native Huckleberry, (Vaccinium ovatum) Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum), Oregon grape (Mahonia), Kinnikinnick, etc., but also a few exotics that work well in woodland settings – Japanese Forest grass (Hakonechloa), Fatsia japonica, and Tassel ferns (Polystichum polyblepharum).
It is shaping up rather nicely, wouldn’t you say?
The fine, evergreen foliar texture of the Huckleberry, has red new growth that echoes the existing Japanese maples. Drifts of Japanese Forest grass and blue Sedge provides bright spots of color against the massive tree trunks.
A new waterfall was added. The weepy habit of the grasses is the plant world’s formal nod to the watery rapids.
Color can be a challenge when adding to existing landscapes during winter, without the guidance provided by the then dormant plants. Landscape design during summer and fall involve a lot less guesswork, in terms of getting the garden color just right.
Growing a backyard bouquet: a guide to fresh cut flowers
Fresh cut flowers add color, cheer, and a sweet aroma to your pretty garden. To have fresh cut flowers straight from your own garden throughout the blooming seasons takes planning, but it is worth the investment. Flower bouquets are the perfect gift for special occasions or to lift the spirits of someone who needs some cheer.
Every Portland landscape has the potential to be a breathtaking scene of color and texture. Our climate allows for lush greens and bright colors to fill the yard all year long. We live in the GREAT Northwest! However for some, choosing which flowers to fill a yard can be a little overwhelming. The “problem” is that we have so many great plants to choose from!
Think about colors, textures, blooming seasons, and smells.
Below is a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs and perennials that are excellent as cut flowers. It is possible to have fresh flowers in a Portland landscape all summer long when you incorporate several of the plants listed below.
Cercis Redbud trees yield absolutely beautiful flowers
Prunus Flowering Cherry
The Berberis Barberry produces this vibrant red color. Isn’t it beautiful? Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia
Buddleia Butterfly Bush
Cornus Red osier Dogwood
Corylus Walking Stick
Hamamelis Witch Hazel
Aconitum Monks Hood
Agapanthus Lily of the Valley
Alchemilla Lady’s Mantle
Baptisia False Indigo
Boltonia False Starwort
Catanache Cupids Dart
Centaurea Bachelors Button
Centranthus Red Valerian
Campanula Cup and Saucer
Dicentra Bleeding Heart
Doronicum Leopards Bane
Echinacea Cone Flower
Echinops Globe Thistle
Engeron Flea Bane
Eryngium Sea Holly
Eupatoium Mist Flower
Gaillardia Blanket Flower
Geum Lady Stratheden
Gypsophilia Babys Breath
Helenium Helen’s Flower
Helianthus Sun Flower
Heliopsis Ox eyed Daisy
Helleborus Lenten Rose
These beauties flower early in the Spring, and their nodding blooms are sublimely beautiful. A few of our favorite varieties for Portland landscaping are Ivory Prince, Pink Frost, Double Queen & Royal Heritage.
Heuchera Coral Bells
Jean May Camellia
This Camellia has soft pink flowers and deep green glossy leaves. It is a brilliant flowering shrub that can be used as a backdrop in landscaping or as a hedge/screen
Leucanthemum Shasta Daisy
This is a classic shasta daisy that doesn’t need staking and is generally trouble free. It offers a lovely pop of white and is such a happy flower!
Monarda Bee Balm
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
With its glossy leaves and cheery flower clusters, Little Linda is a great addition to any landscape! It is a dwarf plant reaching its maximum size at just 3’ x 3’ making it easy to use in smaller residential lots.
Garden planning is an important thing to do. Haphazardly throwing plants, trees, and shrubs together without a well-informed plan can be a recipe for disaster.
What makes planning even more of a challenge is when you live in a unique climate. How could you know what types of plants will thrive where you live versus where someone else does?
In the beautiful Pacific Northwest that we call home, we frequently receive questions about plants that do well in moist environments. For other parts of the country, however, we realize you might be faced with a different set of challenges. Consider this a comprehensive list to expedite your garden planning process, no matter what type of conditions you might live in. We carry many of these in our Portland Nursery and Garden Center in the Raleigh Hills Neighborhood.
The following is a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses and all-around wet soil plants. Most every Portland landscape has need for a few plants that thrive in wet soil and can be used when garden planning. Here are tons to choose from!
Trees for Wet Areas
Acer Rubrum Red Maple
Acer rubrum Red Maple
Acer saccharinum Silver Maple
Betula nigra River Birch
Fraxinus latifolia Oregon Ash
Liquidamber stryaciflua Sweetgum
Lirodendron Tulip Tree
Magnolia virginiana Sweet Bay
Metasequoia glyptostoboides Dawn Redwood
Nyssa slyvantica Sourgum
Picea sitchensis Sitka Spruce
Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak
Quercus palustris Pin Oak
Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress
Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar
Shrubs For Wet Areas
Andromeda Polifolia – Bog Rosemary
Andromeda polifolia Bog Rosemary
Ardisia japonica Japanese Ardisia
Aronia arbutifolia Chokeberry
Calycanthus Spice Bush
Chaenomeles Flowering Quince
Cornus stolonifera Red-Osier Dogwood
Ilex glabra Inkberry
Ilex virginica Sweetspire
Leucothoe fontanesiana Drooping Leucothoe
Lindera benzoin Spice Bush
Lonicera involucrate Twinberry
Myrica pensylvanica Bayberry
Rosa palustris Swamp Rose
Salix Shrub Willow
Sambucus Canadensis Red Elderberry
Spirea douglasii Douglas Spirea
Syphoricarpus orbiculatas CoralBerry
Viburnum opulus Snowball Bush
Viburnum trilobum Cranberry Bush
Perennials For Wet Areas
Aruncus dioicus Goatsbeard
Aruncus dioicus Goatsbeard
Aster novae-angliae New England Aster
Bellis pernnis English Daisy
Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold
Camassia Camas Lily
Canna Canna Lily
Dicentra Formosa Bleeding Heart
Eupatorium maculatum Joe-Pye Weed
Filapendula Meadow sweet
Gunnera Dinosaur Food
Lilium canadense Canada Lily
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Lobelia
Mimulus Monkey Flower
Monarda Bee Balm
Polygonatum Solomans Seal
Primula japonica Japanese Primrose
Schizostylis Kafir Lily
Sisyrichium Blue-eyed Grass
Tolmiea menziesii Piggyback Plant
Zantedeschia Calla Lily
Grasses For Wet Areas
Acorus gramineus Japanese Sweet Flag Image courtesy of Monrovia
Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies to your Garden is the dream of many. And for good reason. They’re peaceful, and add a sense of calm and serenity in a world that certainly could use more of it.
And the great news is that, if you understand what you’re doing, attracting hummingbirds and attracting butterflies can easily be done.
Hummingbird gardens must offer not only the nectar filled flowers but also must be a habitat that supports their lifestyle.
These little birds need both sun and shade, shrubs and tree branches for perching, fresh water for not only drinking but for bathing too. Oh yes, and they will need materials for nest making such as spider webs, dryer lint, or bits of leaves.
These delicate birds spend lots of energy flying, so it comes as no surprise that they feed many times each hour (3-5 times). While our flowers are blooming, there is nectar for them to sip, but once you have offered them a flower food source, you can also place hummingbird feeders in prominent locations to feed them.
Hummingbird feeders supplement the flower nectar, especially when flowers are few. Hang them from tree branches or a carefully placed shepherd hook, high enough to keep the hummingbird safe from the neighborhood cats.
Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds love tubular shaped flowers although that shape is not absolutely required. Fragrance is not important to them, but vivid colors of red, purple, pink, orange and yellow will attract them to your garden. At our Portland Nursery, we have a large selection of flowering annuals, perennials & woody plants that will attract hummingbirds into your garden.
Just a few to checkout
Image courtesy of birdwatchinghq.com
Butterfly Plants: Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden
Here is a thorough list of butterfly-attracting trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. All will grow well in the Pacific Northwest, and if you’re looking for any help with the following foliage, be sure to visit us at our Portland Nursery
Trees that Attract Butterflies
The following are a few examples of great trees to plant if you are interested in bringing butterflies to your garden
Shrubs that Attract Butterflies
When planting shrubs in your garden, consider the following if you care to invite butterflies for a visit.
Perennials for Attracting Butterflies
Going shopping for perennials anytime soon? Keep the following list handy.
Commonly known as the Heather flower, this beautiful purple flower is scientifically known as Calluna. They’re beautiful, and a great way of adding a splash of purple to the most beautiful, sophisticated gardens.
Where do Heather Flowers Grow Best?
Heathers grow best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Plants will perform best if planted in well drained acidic soil. Soil in the Willamette Valley can be improved by adding an acid planning mix to the soil prior to planting.
Planting Heather Plants
Prepare a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. Partially fill the hole with acid planting mix or compost. The hole should be the same depth as planted by the nursery. Heathers have very shallow root systems, so be sure not to plant too deep. Score or scratch the root ball to loosen up the roots so the plant will establish easier. On an average, the heather flower should be planted 2-3 ft. apart.
Heather Plant Care
Never let the plants dry out. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for newer plantings. Water deeply at least once a week. Remove any weeds carefully. Be careful with weed killers as they easily damage the heathers and heaths as well. Mulching is beneficial in the winter months, but be sure to keep mulch away from the stems and crowns.
Pruning Heather Flowers
Pruning should be done after each flowering period or very early in the spring. Be careful not to prune too far down. There needs to be green leaves under your pruning cut or that section will not grow back. Pruning in the fall or winter will cause the plants to split and create holes.
Fertilization is almost always helpful. A light application of acid-loving, slow release fertilizer in the early spring is ideal. Fertilizers should be granular and not applied to the foliage. It is best to sprinkle the fertilizers around the base of the plants about 2” from the stems.
Where to Find a Heather Plant for Sale
If you’re lucky enough to call the Pacific Northwest your home, we can help you find heather plants for sale at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center . We look forward to working with you on your home garden project!
Planting Fruit Trees can be one of the most rewarding things a gardener could do for themselves. And it’s totally possible. This is meant to be a brief overview of the types of things you’ll need to know when planting fruit trees for yourself.
Choosing a Site for Fruit Trees
Fruit trees should be planted in a full sun location. Avoid planting trees in the shade or around any older trees. Fruit trees require well drained soils. It is always a good idea to amend the site with compost before planting.
When to Plant Fruit Trees
Plant fruit trees as soon as possible in late winter/ early spring.
Bare Root Trees
Soak the roots in a bucket or wheelbarrow of water and root stimulator for about a ½ hour. Dig the hole just large enough to accommodate roots. Fill the hole with water twice to check for drainage. If the hole has not drained within 12-24 hours find a better drained spot. If the native soil is heavy clay, blend one third organic soil amendment with the backfill soil. If the soil is reasonable, just use the native soil for backfill. Form a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole to spread the roots over; making sure the graft is a couple of inches above the soil line. Fill the hole with soil. Do not put fertilizer in the hole or it may burn tender roots, or, use a mild transplant fertilizer. Check to be sure tree is no deeper than its original soil level. Make a watering basin with extra soil. Fill the basin with water mixed with root stimulator making sure the tree is well watered and no large air pockets are left around the roots. Paint the trunks with white latex paint to prevent sunscald.
Planting Potted Trees
Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot but no deeper. If the soil is heavy clay, amend with one-third organic soil amendment. Place the tree in the hole so it rests slightly above the surrounding soil level. Fill in hole with backfill, building a water basin slightly wider than the root ball around the tree. Water the tree thoroughly. Paint the trunk with white latex paint to avoid sunscald.
Fertilizing and Pest Control for Planting Fruit Trees
Best growth will be accomplished with the help of fertilizers. There are many organic options as well as conventional options. All fertilizers should be applied after leaf fall in autumn and again before bloom in the spring. Trees that are planted in the lawn may need more nitrogen than those planted in a garden bed. Generous amounts of lawn clippings or compost make a great substitute for a nitrogen fertilizer. Don’t let fertilizer touch the trunk of the tree.
There are many pests that target the fruit trees. These include insects, bacterial infections and fungi. All of these are treatable and can be treated through out the year. Please refer to Drake’s 7 Dees Nursery’s Fruit Tree Spray Schedule Handout.
Harvesting Fruit Trees
Apples and Sour Cherries are ready for harvesting when they are easily picked from the tree. Sweet Cherries, Plums, Prunes, and Peaches will all continue to ripen after harvest. European pears should be picked while they are still green and should come off the tree easily when ready. Persimmons ripen late in the fall when they become soft. Nuts fall to the ground when mature. For best quality, gather and dry walnuts